Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Gas Mileage for a 1997 Ford Explorer

Yes, the mileage is terrible. I'd love to trade you for a new Toyota Prius or some such, but the cost of gas just doesn't justify buying a new car to my fiscally driven mind.

The numbers above come to about $20 a week on an average load of 183 miles a week. And that includes vacation driving over the holidays. Assuming a ridiculously low incremental cost of $10,000 for a new car, and assuming that new car is twice as efficient as this one, that comes to 1000 weeks or about 19 years before the new car pays for itself.

I'll drive this car until the wheels fall off. Or I win the lottery (greater than $1 million or it doesn't count.)

[Update 9/1/05] Please see the updated numbers and analysis - based on the irrational rise in gas prices - on this post.

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Anonymous said...

too bad that it doesn't just matter to your wallet. In reality the lower fuel efficiency means that you are releasing tons more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere... and carbon dioxide is what causes global warming. So even though you probably won't see the true cost of your toy for years to come, the fact remains that you are still being selfish and irresponsible. this is not to say that the millions of other drivers in SUVs are not contributing as well because they are, but i think that if you can boil the issue down to just the $$$$ cost to you... then you are being dense. Good luck at getting over being selfish.

Scott said...

I considered deleting the above comment along with the multiple profane comments and Viagra ads that are the plague of any open comment system. However, I decided that in this case the more appropriate action would be a response. Ignorance can be and many times should be ignored, but I believe that we all have a responsibility to at least try to educate if we expect to bring up the overall educational and rational thinking level of our youth. An, in any case, I can always delete it later.

My assumption and hope is that the author of the comment, who chose to remain anonymous, is a teenaged (or younger) idealist. At that age it is perfectly acceptable and perhaps even desirable to see the world as black and white. Before the onset of truly critical thinking, one sees the world as good and bad, rich and poor, strong and weak, etc,. and makes simplistic connections between the sets. However, one would hope that with age comes the ability to reason, the ability to comprehend more complex relationships, the ability to apply rational thought processes to any given statement, and a more fully formed understanding of the world.

The author makes his thought process clear in a few well-chosen words, such as “selfish”, “irresponsible”, and “toy”. In his or her mind, the world is very simple. Those who own and drive anything other than a small hybrid are evil people contributing to the eventual extinction of mankind. Allow me to attempt to broaden the discussion beyond such knee-jerk and simplistic views.

First, to the comments on contribution to global warming. You, my young friend, appear to have swallowed whole the oft-repeated theory that the earth’s temperature is rising solely due to the effects of horrible, selfish, elitist Western civilizations that insist on driving cars in pursuit of luxuries and distractions. However, you should understand that there is significant debate on that topic. Serious scientists have questioned whether or not humans really are causing global warming, and others have just as seriously noted that coal-burning by so-called developing countries such as China contribute at least as much if not more to the air quality of the earth than do increasingly efficient automobiles. The point is that I encourage you not to just accept what is spoon-fed to you, but to think critically and rationally. If you don’t accept at face value what you hear from one side of the story, don’t accept at face value what you hear from the other side.

Even granting that global warming is something which should concern humanity, there are very few who would be convinced to change their lifestyle over that concern. Sure, it may come into consideration when purchasing a new vehicle, but few if any would be willing to sell their current mode of transportation and take on new debt only for that cause. Especially if the cause is communicated in such a shrill manner. If you’d like to make a more convincing argument, use the US dependence on foreign oil. That one is much more compelling. Or, perhaps, use the hated, evil economic argument. How much more interesting this comment would have been if it had merely pointed out that gasoline prices have risen significantly since the posting and that the economics may indeed soon make compelling sense.

Finally, allow me to address the central argument and belief of the author that an SUV is a “toy”. What would lead you to that conclusion? Perhaps the SUV is used in my building of a new home, where I require a vehicle able to transport the required loads but am unwilling or unable to purchase and maintain two vehicles simultaneously. Perhaps I purchased the vehicle because I spend every weekend performing charity work that requires such capacity to transport donated food, clothes, and tools to local charities. Perhaps I purchased the vehicle merely because it was at the time the safest vehicle for my family and could accommodate car seats and groceries without compromising safety. The point is, you have no way of knowing. Judging a person’s motives and thoughts based on appearance is lazy and incredibly offensive. In nearly any other context, this would be obvious to everyone. It is a shame that it is not so obvious here.

Try to think rationally, understand more of the facts before jumping to conclusions, and look at all sides of the issues before making up your mind. What you’ll discover is that questions lead to more interesting and complex answers. Your opinion may not be changed, but your beliefs will be strengthened by having a stronger, more rational base that can be defended based on verifiable and defensible truths, not just irrational platitudes.

(By the way, I would indeed prefer to have a more fuel-efficient car at this point in my life and career, but the Explorer is paid off and I’m not going to mortgage my kids’ education in the name of fuel efficiency at this time. I intend to wait until the Explorer dies or the rational economic formula changes before purchasing a new vehicle – unless someone would like to donate a new car to my worthy cause.)

Anonymous said...

Well I think, Scott, you made the issue clear.
I myself drive a F150 V8, which I'm not proud of regarding the enviroment and not happy about regarding my wallet. Though the arguments supporting my choice have been said in Scotts post - need of big transportation capacity, need of power and 4x4 to move it, lag of money (without mortgaging everyting) to afford a more efficient or diesel truck and I also did the same figures about money spent on gas vs. buying a different vehicle.

Today's world is very much money driven and in the first place (almost) everybody will and has to take a look in his wallet and then can decide if that's enough to save the world or just have a decent life.
Of course big cars and trucks burn much fuel, but what is the REAL burner? I tell you - it is the abuse of those and other vehicles (here comes the word "toy", which I think does apply to a lot of people's cars, but like Scott said, you'd have to know the background before saying it). Taking the car - and I mean ANY car - to visit a friend or get a burger two blocks down the road, thats the burner! Many People don't leave their yard without the car anymore and thats where everybody should start saving the enviroment.
Additionally, the katalyst converter only works when it is hot, which is after about 5-10miles, any distance driven less than that we don't have to worry about the carbon dioxide but all the other crab that comes outta there, and again - out of ANY car.
I take my bike when going shopping in the village, last time I turned that engine on is eight days ago, I use it when I need it, but I'm still on natures side...

Anonymous said...


I agree with your comments 100%. What is the point to buy a car which has a payback of close to 20 years. Experts have done detailed studies which show that a Hummer is more environmentally friendly that a Honda hybrid, reason being that a Hummer is designed to last 300,000 miles and a Honda hybrid is only rated for 100,000 miles life expectancy. What happens then and who has to dispose of imported battery in the USA. Unfortunately a lot of Americans have been deceived by the illusion that if they get these "Green Vehicles" that they are doing something good for the environment without looking deeper into the issues.

Another issue is your safety and your families. Which car do you rather be in during a head on collision or rear end collision, a match box Prius or a vehicle which is going to protect you. Having been in a recent accident myself and being able to afford most any new vehicle out there, I chose to purchase a Ford Explorer for its safety ratings. When you get into an accident with one of the toy cars and wind up a a wheel chair for the rest of your life, none of these "Green People" are going to be there for you or your family. However they will take valuable resource and send hate mail like the on which was needlessly sent to you.

I wish more of these "Green People" did something worthwhile like go visit a veteran who has gotten blown up for them so they can have the freedom to drive their import on American soil and layoff more of America.

Ab BeachMom said...

In response to the "In reality the lower fuel efficiency means that you are releasing tons more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere" comment. A) Define lower fuel efficiency - If I transport 7 people in my SUV at 17mpg vs someone transporting 1 person in their "efficient" 34mpg vehicle, just who is really being more fuel efficient? B)On the part about releasing "tons" more carbon dioxide - please define what you are comparing this to - tons more than what? Tons more than not driving anything? Or do you think that my driving my SUV 100 miles a week is putting "tons" more evil greenhouse emmissions into the atmosphere than a "green" car driving 250 miles a week? Guess again. Why don't I drive a Prius? Too expensive to purchase initially and maintain/repair, its tiny I can't fit my daughter's special needs car seat (its huge) in to the back and still have room to get her through the door into the carseat (I know, I tried it in my sister's Prius) plus I can't fit the wheelchair & anything else in its trunk. So I'm sticking with my SUV. Also, does your electricity come from coal burning, that also puts tons of bad stuff into the atmosphere. Maybe only people who get their power from wind, water, or solar should be allowed to use their electricity - yeah right. On and by the way, any car you drive is still contributing CO2, so get over yourself.